National Review Set to Abandon Conservatism in '08?
It's begun. The long knives are out. The minute Rudy says he's running, and the week it's discovered that a conservative Republican electorate finds Rudy to be the most acceptable nominee, National Review splashes the drag photo on its cover in a largely reporting-free polemic by Kate O'Beirne.
My first reaction: Better now than in late '07. This photo should be brandished liberally in '06 so that it's old news once the campaign gets underway.
In one respect, I agree with Hotline On Call. The real story isn't this conventionally unwise cover piece by O'Beirne. It's the story that accompanies it, by Byron York, on McCain's efforts in South Carolina.
The York piece is noteworthy for two reasons. The first is a poll by McCain adviser Richard Quinn purporting to show a McCain lead in the Palmetto state, with McCain 36%, Giuliani 21%, Gingrich 9%, Frist 4%, Allen 3%, and Romney 1%. This is an internal McCain poll that the McCainites chose to publish, so assume McCain is actually up by 10 or less (if Rudy actually won South Carolina, I'd be shocked -- and the race would be over). Two things here: Does anyone believe that Allen won't play a big role in South Carolina? And who's to say that Allen won't get his inevitable growth at the expense of McCain, making this a Rudy vs. Allen race? FWIW, Rudy has led consistently in independent polling of neighboring Georgia.
The second is York's conclusion: "At least right now, John McCain looks to be in the best position to take the prize. If he can keep a steady strain."
So National Review trash talks Rudy while resigning itself to a McCain coronation. I fail to see how this advances the conservative cause, because a McCain nomination -- the end-result of National Review's reportorial stance -- would be a catastrophe for conservatism. Rudy may be wrong on two or three issues, but McCain is wrong on almost everything else.
Memo to KLo, Ramesh, York, et al.: right now, Rudy is the only guy who can knock McCain out of the race before Iowa. Unite with us now to take out McCain, and then rally around a social conservative to your heart's content. In fact I'll offer this free advice: it will almost certainly be easier for a movement conservative to mobilize against Rudy than it would be against McCain.